Col. John Todd, whose honored name this county bears, was the
eldest of three brothers, and a native of Pennsylvania. He was
educated in Virginia, at his uncle's-the Rev. John Todd-and at
maturity entered upon the study of the law, subsequently obtaining a
license to practice. He left his uncle's residence, and settled in
the town of Fincastle, Va., where he practiced law for several
years; but Daniel Boone and others having explored Kentucky, Col.
Todd, lured by the descriptions given him of the fertility of the
country, about the year 1775 came first to Kentucky, where he found
Col. Henderson and others at Boonesboro. He joined Henderson's
party, obtained a pre-emption right, and located sundry tracts of
land in the present county of Madison, in Col. Henderson's land
office. He afterward returned to Virginia, and in the year 1786
again set out from Virginia with his friend, John May, and one or
two others, for Kentucky. They proceeded some distance together on
the journey, when for some cause Mr. May left his servant with Col.
Todd to proceed on to their destination, and returned to Virginia.
Col. Todd proceeded on to the place where Lexington now stands, and
in its immediate vicinity improved two places-the one in his own
name and the other in that of his friend, John May-for both of which
he obtained certificates for settlement and pre-emption of 1,400
acres. These pre-emptions adjoin and lie in the immediate vicinity
of the city of Lexington. It appears from depositions taken since
his death, that he accompanied Gen. Clarke in his expedition against
Kaskaskia and Vincennes, and was at the capture of those places.
After the surrender of these posts it is supposed lie returned to
Kentucky, but it appears from letters written by Gen. Clarke that
Col. Todd was appointed to succeed him in the command at Kaskaskia.
Under an act of Virginia Legislature passed in 1777, by which that
part of Virginia conquered by Clarke, and all other of her territory
northwest of the Ohio River, was erected into the county of
Illinois, of which Col. Todd was appointed Colonel-Commandant and
County-Lieutenant, with all the civil powers of Governor. He was
further authorized, by enlistment or volunteers, to raise a regiment
for the defense of the frontier. He immediately entered upon the
duties of his office, and was seldom absent from his Government up
to the time of his death. The regiment was raised for one year's
service, but was continued in duty until about 1779, when the State
of Virginia raised four additional regiments-two for the eastern and
two for the western part of Virginia. Col. Todd was appointed to the
command of one of these. In the spring of 1780, Col. Todd was sent a
delegate to the Legislature of Virginia, from the County of
Kentucky. While attending on the Legislature he married Miss
Hawkins, and returned subsequently to Kentucky, settling his wife in
the fort at Lexington. He again visited Illinois, and was engaged
continually in the administration of its Government and in military
affairs, so that he was seldom with his family until the summer of
1782, when in the month of August the Indians besieged Bryan's
Station in great force. The disastrous battle of the Blue Licks
followed on the 19th of that month. Among the noble brave who fell,
fighting to the last, was Col. John Todd, in the midst of usefulness
and in the prime of life. His wife survived him, and an only child,
a daughter, about twelve months old. This daughter was still living
in 1847 (as wife of Robert Wickliffe, Sr.), and was then the oldest
female native of Lexington.
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